Norbulingka Institute, Dharamsala

The reflection of the Tibetan styled building seemed to shimmer in the water – the vibrant reds a striking contrast against the greenery, and the blue of the sky. We had seen many such structures over the last few days at Dharamsala. Yet, this was an image that captured my attention. My camera didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm for the sight, but I persevered. And this is the best I was able to do….



Have I been able to capture the essence of the beauty I saw that day? It is for you to say.



We were at the Norbulingka Institute near Dharamsala, having arrived just in time for lunch. After a sumptuous meal, which we enjoyed in the company of a pair of Yellow Billed Blue Magpies, we had found a guide, and were exploring the institute.

The original Norbulingka was the summer residence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet. The Norbulingka Institute in Sidhpur, near Dharamsala is an effort to preserve Tibetan Art and Culture, not just for the displaced Tibetans, but for everyone who wishes to know more about it. Built in the typical Tibetan Architectural style, the Institute conducts courses in traditional Tibetan arts, open to all. You can choose to observe, or to learn the intricacies of ancient art forms such as Thangka painting, applique, wood carving, as well as tailoring or weaving. There are resident artists whose works are on display, as well on sale.

Artists at work on Thangkas... A single one can take months to paint!! 


The temple here is a testament to the talent and hard work of the artists of Norbulingka. There is also a doll museum, with handmade dolls and dioramas depicting scenes from life in Tibet – from different tribes and their ways of life, to the colourful festivals.

Handmade dolls at the museum depicting one of the traditional dances. Note how the dolls depict the movements. 


I was most impressed by the efficient manner in which the Institute was run. We were welcomed at the gates by a polite lady who gave us our tickets and told us we could avail of the services of a guide for free. The guide was engaged, so we waited, using the opportunity to have our lunch. The café was superb, and we enjoyed the fare, both continental as well as Tibetan, and the ambiance perfect. By then, the guide was free, and he took us around, telling us about the Institute, as well as Tibet, and the situation there. The different sections of the Institute, each focusing on one art form, were a revelation. The intricacies involved and the detail were mind boggling, and I wished we had chosen to stay here, and try our hand at one. He left us at the temple, showing us the way ahead, and we spent a long time at the Doll Museum before heading to the shop. The items on sale were products we had seen in the workshops, and we admired anew the work that had gone into making them. They were on the expensive side, to be sure, but we still returned with enough to keep our memories alive of this amazing place.

One figure has so much detail. Imagine how much work goes into just one of these!!
And then think of a complete painting or wood carving, with many such figures!!  


If you are visiting Dharamsala, check out the website of the Institute, and plan your visit accordingly.


This post is part of my series on my #summertrip 2015, and I hope to take you along with me as I recount stories from my month long trip, which took me across the country. To get an idea of all the places I visited, and what you can hope to read about, click here.  

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Comments

  1. Wow, I can see why it was so easy to stay and enjoy the surroundings! So much to see and do. I would have loved to try my hand at some of the artistic endeavors that were available.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Natalie. I am sure you would have enjoyed this place. If you ever plan a visit to India, add this to your itinerary... I too want to go stay there sometime just to learn some art, but lets see if that ever happens!

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  2. The first photo is brilliant brilliant brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

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